Everything To Know About Croatian Beer

Christine Peasnell
16th August 2022

If you're a beer lover, visiting Croatia needs to be at the top of your list, with both lager and craft beer being the top drinks of choice.In recent years, Croatia has seen an increase in native craft breweries opening with new offerings. This craft beer scene is so popular that you’ll now even find seaside towns serving one or two independent brews.

With so many great-tasting and cheap beers, knowing where to start on your next visit can be challenging. Let’s dive in with some useful things to know, and a dozen Croatian beers to get you started.

Facts about Croatian Beer

What's the legal drinking age in Croatia?

In Croatia, the legal age to purchase alcohol is 18 years old. It is also permitted to drink in public in Croatia.

Beer consumption in Croatia

In 2010, Croatia was the 14th country in the World by beer consumption per capita, with beer being the drink of choice throughout the country.

About Croatian Beer

How do I ask for a beer in Croatia?

When visiting, it's essential to know how to order a beer. The Croatian word for beer is pivo (pronounced pee-voh).

If you're out for a celebration, you may want to use the word for cheers, which is živjeli, but Croatians don't clink their glasses or bottles together when saying it.

If you want to ask for a dark beer, ask for tamno pivo or to order a lager say, svijetlo pivo.

12 Croatian Beers To Try

Zmajska Pivovara

Having been founded in 2013, Zmajska Pivovara (The Dragon Brewery) was the first craft beer brewery in Croatia, having kickstarted the Croatian craft beer industry. Within its first year of business, it was ranked in the top 10 new breweries in the World. Now, it has a wide range of beers, including flavoured, IPA and stout.

Zmajska Pivovara Croatian beer

Medvedgrad

While it was supposed to be named Cetiri dečka in 1994, Medvedgrad brewery took its name after the old Bavarian tradition of naming breweries after the nearest mediaeval fortress. Having remained in the family, the sons have continued the traditional way of brewing beer from raw ingredients while creating seasonal beers and a new range called Fantom, each with a different taste.

Medvedgrad Croatian beer

Varionica

Having begun as a passion at home leading into a fully-fledged brewery in 2019, Varionica is a must-try for anyone visiting Croatia. The name comes from a loose translation of the word 'Brewhouse', choosing to focus on quality over quantity. Their mainstay Pale Ae is light and well-loved, but they also offer a light India pale ale, Siesta Session and Neon Stout with a taste of oats and chocolate.

Varionica Croatian beer

Ožujsko

One of the most popular beer producers in Croatia is Ožujsko, whose light beer is the most popular in its range. It's been around since 1892, with this refreshing beer at the top of many people's lists, enjoying its full golden colour, fine bitter aromas and compact foam. They also produce flavoured beer with Elderberr, Lemon and Grapefruit, all refreshing for the warmer months.

Ozujsko Croatian beer

LAB Split

Having been the first brewery to come out of Split, LAB Split produces a handful of beers, with their Barba Pale Ale being the first beer they ever made. It has a touch of zesty bitterness with a light caramel body, making it perfectly refreshing for the summer months.

LAB Split Croatian beer

Nova Runda

Having begun as friends who wished to homebrew back in 2009, it wasn't until 2012 that Nova Runda started its next steps into opening a brewery, which it successfully managed in 2013. Creating hoppy and complex tasting beers, the first beer they crafted was an APA with Citra hops but have gone on to make another eight great-tasting beers, including India Pale Ale, Brown Ale and New England IPA.

Nova Runda Croatian beer

Pulfer

Having been founded in 2016 and a crowd-funding success story, Pulfer is brewed in Zagreb. Their Ziher beer is a classic light ale beer, very drinkable, with pleasant bitterness and a balance of light citrus aromas with a mild caramel taste. Having begun brewing in their Grandmother's pots, it has since grown into a recognisable beer brand in Croatia that also offers a stout.

Pulfer Croatian beer

San Servolo

Created by two brothers in 2013, San Servolo is the first Istrian beer produced. The San Servolo beers are non-filtered, making two types of pale ale beer: APA, and IPA, with various kinds of lager. For a unique experience, consider staying at Croatia's first Spa and brewery, the San Servolo Brewery and Spa. Guests can unwind in their beer spa, with beer taps and deep tubs filled with beer, and enjoy a treatment menu.

San Servolo Croatian beer

Zeppelin

This small, independent brewery in the central Croatian city of Bjelovar, Zeppelin, wanted to bring people together with beer, emphasising introducing women to beer. Naming their beers after animals, such as the Merkat, Flamingo and Rakoon, they have a small range that is very well loved with complex tastes and varied notes.

Zeppelin Croatian beer

Osječko

Easy to locate in many bars and restaurants across Croatia, Osječko beer is the oldest produced beer, having been created in 1697. Made in Osijek, the central city of Slavonia, where it got its name. More notably, it is always served in a brown bottle, as it has been done from the beginning. It is still offering drinkers a refreshing taste with welcomed bitter notes.

Osjecko Croatian beer

The Garden

An award-winning micro-brewery, The Garden Brewery in Zagreb was founded in 2016. With beer options such as a West Coast IPA and New England Pale Ale, they also offer a wide range of flavours for all beer drinkers, including Peace, Mango and Mandarin. Their brewery also offers tours, so book ahead if you fancy a visit.

The Garden Brewery Croatian beer

Velebitsko

Having been produced since 1997 near Gospić, Velebitsko beer isn't very well known, but many consider it one of the best in Croatia. It has been described as having a medium body but a full malty taste and is very well balanced. Difficult to find, it's easily accessible in the Plotvive region, and in 2003 was awarded as the second best beer in the world!

Velebitsko Croatian beer

Whether you're after more unique flavours or prefer a heart and heavy bitter taste, there's a beer for all in Croatia. With many Croatians not afraid to enjoy a drink, you're in good company if you want to get away and sample them all.

make an offer and stay in Croatia

Whatever you fancy, we're confident one of these dozen Croatian beers will wet your whistle and give you a whole new set of tastes to try. If you’re looking for a drink on the other side of Europe, take a look at our guide to Spanish beer instead, and wherever you end up visiting (for the brews or otherwise), don’t forget… just hoo it!


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